Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Youth giving jelly! Chyawanprash

It is the typical tale of ignoring what is in your own backyard. So, since I can remember I know of chyawanprash. I also know other types of jelly -- but having something like that shoved into your mouth while recovering from some sickness puts you off such things as a child.
Now, with foresight born of five decades  of life on this planet, and with the desperation that comes from that I have suddenly, and fortuitously, rediscovered this powerpacked jelly.
I have been having it for a month now, twice daily. And find that it does do something to old aches. Whether that is part of its design, I do not know. But it has helped my old knee injury so much so that I have restarted jogging and skipping, which I set aside every time my old injury starts acting up.
All of us have these ups and downs with our body. But the ups have been more, and the downs less, with this chyawanprash.

So, I tried to research a bit about this. And my favorite ayurvedic doctor on this, Dr David Frawley, apart from discussing the ingredients, gives it the metaphysical spin that really appeals to me.

He says that it promotes love, longevity and good fortune. It is regarded as the long-living tree. And that is is used to treat mental disorders (Book reference: The Yoga of Herbs). He is using all my favorite words. Appealing to all that appeals to me. I love the idea of the chyawanprash being a tree. And a long-living one, is magical. And if having this jelly gets me good fortune, who am I to sniff at that?

The base, he explains, is Amla, raw sugar, and ghee (another traditional ingredient that has enjoyed a happy comeback). And then each of the ayurvedic school, possibly depending on the region they are from, have different formulations. Every time at look at a label (and till now have tried two brands, one ordered from Kerala online) they have a long list that appears to go on and on. It makes me feel good, because like most of us I rather talk of health than do much about it. So to think that just a few teaspoonfuls is getting my quota of health for the day is a very special feeling. On the day I forget I fret a bit, but it is a good sign.
I mean, it is about self-engagement when we take the trouble care for  ourselves. The more I read of health, thanks to my being a yoga instructor, I keep learning that  self-engagement is the only way to ensure you do not go downhill. If you let go, it is going to create the grounds for mental and physical decline.
Having watched my grandmother suffer so much towards her end, with decline in physical and mental faculties and the way my mother had to struggle in taking care of her with no help whatsoever, has made me determined  to focus on health. Health  above all the other things that seem  to attract the rest of the world.  My grandmother did not know much of what she suffered, but the ignominy of losing your faculties, that left a deep mark on my mind.  As a kid I have seen so many deaths -- and many of them long-suffering where the burden of most of the care-taking fell on my mom, that has left a deep mark. I see others around me glibly ignoring health as if they feel it is a given -- it bothers me because it is a lie. Health has to be worked upon. It is like an investment. You cannot expect a lottery. And other people's savings will not help you. You are alone -- when you are unwell. Even the ability to bear pain, that comes from strength of the mind. If things must go downhill, at least we must walk to our grave and not flail our way into it.

So here is this nice story that is associated with this jelly:

Apparently a young princess married an aging rishi, Chyawana. His youth is restored by the Ashwin twins, through the use of rejuvenating herbs all of which find themselves in this jelly. And that, sort of sums up why this is regarded as an essential part of kayakalpa-- youth giving practices of ayurveda.

So, whenever I pop the gooey jelly in my mouth, I have this story running through. Its a powerful affirmation, not even consciously attempted.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Yoga herb: miracle herb to power your yoga practice

On turmeric ..the healing Herb that is referred as the yoga herb ..in my you tube channel

Safe headstand: how to be safe upside down

It now belongs to the stuff of yoga legends ..that the stellar yoga guru Iyengar won instant acclaim for having propped an octogenarian European queen into the headstand. So age is never a barrier for learning it.
However even simple tasks need prep. And standing upside down is not simple. So it needs more prep. If you are not used to any physical activity then u need more prep. And perhaps need to be initiated into it with props.
I was lucky to have trained partly in the South of India with Asana Andiappan. And in his institutes he would have a simple pulley to help even stroke victims enter the headstand with a lot of support. It made sense to me ..to activate sluggish parts of the brain and spine. I have seen older women ( who in other parts of India will simply baulk at it)  and even overweight people ( who normally have several inhibitions about inversions) just go to  the corner reserved for the headstand and when their turn came, happily stand upside down for quite some time. 
It powered my own practice.

But I learnt that to do the headstand scientifically helps makes it very easy. Here is my brief YouTube tutorial on the simple poses u need to do before u start on your headstand.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Yoga game: Pada Sparsh

Dear readers
So good to be back ­čśé Remember  the time ..if u belong to my generation..when u didn't have electronic entertainment and had to play out in the sun. Tough games. Climbing trees.
 Getting bee stun. And not wilting when u fell.

So here is one of those games. Of Yoga Belonging to a period  even  earlier than my childhood. Its on  my YouTube channel Yoga with a view .. Watch it. Like it. Subscribe to it. It's not about me at all. About the  spirit of yoga ..

Friday, August 31, 2018

Kapala dhauti: yoga cure for headache

I have restarted my blog after a long gap. My apologies. But here is an immediate yoga tip. No side effects. Works. If nothing else, offers topical soothing. Third eye healing, for those who like to spice up their yoga knowledge with metaphysical connnections.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Belly fat: why even yogis have it and what to do

Belly fat is the very devil. It makes u feel bad. Its as if it implies u are not being disciplined about your food or your health or your exercise. Its not so much about how it makes u feel ugly. Its really about making u look bad as a person. The implication of belly fat bothers many of us I think. Its demotivating also ..especially if u are trying stuff u have been trying efficiently for years but now see that these same tricks are not yielding the right results.  So I too have a yo -yo relationship with this despite my vigorous approach to health.

These are things I have noticed about belly fat..after 50s ..that may help u too, whatever your age:

* It becomes exaggerated when u are stressed. The correlation beteeen stress and belly fat has been well established..so we need to de-stress with a firm intent. Funny books or movies. Cooking good food. Art and craft and hobbies. And a regular workout. They elevate your mood and release stress.

* Have a dynamic workout. Interval training..short bursts of exercise followed by relaxing stretches..even for 10 / 20 minutes thrice weekly will have immediate impact. This is a new breakthrough but entire researches and books vouchfor it. So do I.

* Diet is the key. U have to consult a professional if needed but do it so u feel the impact immediately. Trying something that works for your friend may not be the right answer for your body type.

* With yoga ..to lose belly fat ..incorporate dynamic sequences and flows( as shown in video). Dynamic poses are more challenging and burn more fat especially at the belly and thighs.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Yogic eye exercises: its about the cosmic vision

I have these Buddha eyes all around my spaces ..whether it is my home or my work space. Something about the brilliance of trataka/ eye exercises infuses itself through them to me.

Its amazing that despite all the drama and fervour over yoga not many classes or teachers encourage its practice. All that I  know of this I know from the Bihar school of yoga books.

I was browsing  a Hatha Yoga Pradipika translation by Sw Muktibodhananda and rediscovered its magic.

According to the author Swatmarama trataka not only sorts eye problems but also removes  "fatigue, sloth".  But even more, according to the translator it awakens the susushmna nadi ..the  spiritual consciousness. It can even arouse clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis and psychic healing. Clearly for such states to be created the practice must be intense.  Done at brahmamuhurta ..the time of the divine ..4 to 6 am.

Perhaps because of such powers it was always meant to be a secret practice . 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

How not to be a wind bag

When u are a woman over forties u learn that when  the guys are hitting on u their strategy has changed: they will start talking to u about their "gas" problems,  in detail. This may include intimate details about the timing, the exact nature of attack and will wind  up with a heartbreaking ( they believe­čÖä) request for some solution from u. Why they think its going to make them attractive to u is a big puzzle. But its amazing how odd it is that they combine this with their bid to flirt with u.  Its galling but there it is. And as an yoga instructor I always have some solution handy but we can bet on it they are not going to follow it at all. Because they have now entered an age themselves where they believe being flatulent is part of their attraction­čśë.

But if u want to be less windy here are some tricks.  Apart from the more common ones like the wind-release pose ( pawan muktasana) whose name makes the powerful impact it has.

In yoga several poses make you look up..between the eyebrows. ( eg Cat Stretch/ marjariasana and all of the prone backbends) We all know it impacts  the pineal gland..psychic third eye. But whie reading the book  Gut by Giulia Enders I read that sitting straight and looking up gives the gargly oesophagus a powerful stretch that can iron out burps and stuff.  And in the same book I was astonished to learn her suggestion that lying on your left side can help the metabolism in such a fashion as to make u feel less heavy after a meal. This is what the marvellous branch of swar yoga offers. Its mindblowing to see how yogis had  cracked these hidden secrets of the body ..secrets that I doubt even many modern day doctors  are aware of.

Any case u know now how to be less windy ...and what to tell old flatulent men when they hit on u­čśü

To sum up: looking upwards relieves gas.
Lying on your left side if feeling "heavy". 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Age erase, with oats

Yoga ia very ritualistic about personal care. Its sister science Ayurveda has elaborate advice on the type of massage oils / powders each ayurvedic dosha must use. I have super books on this by Dr David Frawley and Harish Johari. 
This one I stumbled recently.. I have been breaking fast every morning with a bland bowl of oats relieved by seeds and dried fruits. I would convince myself that horses look superb ..with rippling muscles and great overall tone, thanks to their oats diet! But oats is more than great food..its a marvellous skin care product. Here is what I 
discovered : 
*That oats make great face masks. *They are anti-wrinkle. *They brighten skin. * Exfoliate..remove dead skin. *Tighten pores. *Have stuff ( saponins)  that acts like natural soap and remove grime from inside the pores. * Lots of fats to remove dryness. * Lots of other natural moisturizing agents. 

Basically it depends on what you mix with the oats ..honey or milk or powdered sunflower seeds or almonds or lime juice ..The oats must be softened by puttibg it in a blender. 

Each of the secondary ingredient 
adds its own goodness. If u search online ..on valid sites ..u will find lots of skin care recipes.  So I am not giving u that. Its better you choose according to your skin care needs. I did my own pack by blending oats with sesame oil and rose water as a bath scrub. Feel spanking clean, I must say.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Indian toilet is yoga!

This rivetting book Gut by Giulia Endes notes that in cultures where u need to squat while defecating has less incidence of haemorrhoids and diverticula. And also less of problems that come from exerting while defecating ( which happens in Western style toilets) like varicose veins, stroke and defecation syncope ..fainting on the toilet!
The author has a suggestion on how to mimic the impact of the Indian style squat while excreting. " Just incline your upper body forward slightly and place your feet on a low footstool placed in front of the toilet.."

She cites research by Israeli Dr Dov Sikirov who studied the impact of position u hold while excreting. Those who squatted reported emptying bowels most satisfactorily and in as less as 50  seconds. Not surprisingly those who sat took almost twice the time and unsatisfactorily. Another Japanese research also found tge squatting position appeared to give a clear route for bowels to empty.
It appears that some practices are rejected just because they are ancient ( the author's observation, not mine) and new ones are seen as modern and thetefore more hygienic ( despite contrary evidence). 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Youthfulness is about your nerves

Biologists are still trying to find the elixir of youth. For some,  like Dr Elizabeth Blackburn, its a mission. If u read her books you get a clear idea that a virile mind ..which is connected to the rest of your body ..is a great way to maintai├▒ youthfulness. 
The nerves are how your body tunes in to who u are.  Their vitality is important. This pose here called namaskaranasana ( prayer pose) is not only intensely challenging at a physical level but also "excites" the nerves all over the body. Nerves in all the limbs are set off positively. 
And that difficult joint..the hips ..become stronger and more flexible. After 50s strong hips could mean longevity, youthful mobility and a better quality of life.  
  The chest also opens and collapses in a manner as to strengthen it and release hidden tensions. And the neck is also toned.  The neck ..at a metaphysical level..  .often   collapses at the slightest hint of conflict or stress. 
And I cannot  help but  to point out that to execute this pose you need strong knees and ankles and an  ability to squat low.  In what I call the Indian toilet squat..but more on that later. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Heartily healthy! Easy way to sort your heart

When I started yoga I was completely overwhelmed  by the science behind yogic practices. And the branch of mudra yoga was one of those things that mesmerised me. Despite a lot of spiritual and religious significance to mudras they are really based on the science of neurological brain map of body parts. I do not want to get into this but have written a lot on it. All of my ─║inks on this was drawn primarily by the wisdom of  Swami Satyanandaji's writings.
This mudra shown here ..was amongst the first one I learnt. Its also called hridaya mudra, amritsanjeevani mudra. These names suggest the significance of this mudra.

It is believed regular practice of this can even help avert a heart attack. It can make the heart strong. And control heart problems

And only recently I learnt that this can  even help in emotional problems, specifically dealing with heart-related ones.

For real impact u need to hold the mudra at least for 30 minutes. U can manage this by using it while meditating or doing pranayama.  Or even while watching TV.

If u have high blood pressure, ├žirculatory problems, heart-related issues or a broken heart ...this is the mudra for u. 

Why we resist grounding, healing yoga?

Its that time of the year when people resolve to be regular in their yoga practice. Interestingly the ones who need the grounding and healing of a regular practice will resist it the most. Its as if people do not want be grounded ( a lot of those in the creative field possibly fear that being grounded will strip them of the freedom to be outre!?!). And some who need healing but get attention through their sicknesses ..they too do not want to be healed. So they have a hydra-headed approach to yoga. For long I too resisted standing poses because even more than the inversions they are the  most healing and grounding. Also who wants to feel foolish, shaky, incompetent doing poses that look easy but are ao difficult? Often this is the rite of passage you need to pass before a pose falls in place. But these I am enchanted by the standing balancers. And find another area of my mind open up that was closed to me before. #vrkasana #treepose #standingbalance #yogaforoverthe50s #yogisofinstagram #yogis #yoginis #fabfifties #yogalove #yogachic #bohoyoga #yogibhogirogi #fitness #yogaismorethanasana #grounding #healing #yogawarrior#yogalove

Monday, December 25, 2017

Why your hips affect your moods?

Hips don't lie, apparently­čśëFlexibility of the hips combined with their strength has a lot to do with your moods. That is because your uro- genital system is stacked up in that region of your hips. And much of what you feel is just the right cocktail mix of chemicals, hormones and neurotransmitters.  A hug. A kiss.  The safety of a nest or a home. Curiosity. Sense of adventure. Keenness to learn. Looking ahead.  Planning for the future. A  sense of purpose. Infatuation. Love. Parental love. All of these come from stuff released or related to the reproductive system like oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine .

This may explain even criminal activity ..because some of the actions the criminals  indulge in is an attempt to tap into the high these chemicals release.

It is a complicated loop. And these feelings decide our sense of being. And well-being.

That is why in yoga u can relieve a bad mood by doing the right poses ..many related in helping blood flow to the uro-genital region and can be less complicated than indulging in dangerous or criminal or addictive activity!
This pose ..called hindolasana ..or the baby cradle pose ..is a super hip- opener.
It is a must-do pose to create overall flexibility too. And helps ease the difficulty in backbends.

And hip strength is one of the most important requisite for youthfulness ..which explains why many dance styles have exaggerated moves to highlight hip health dramatically.

In later lives a hip complication can take longer to heal, if at all. It is important to invest a few minutes in such poses daily to continue having a robust life.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Glow face: easily and inexpensively

Even practitioners who do not do stunts on the mat ..they look far younger than their non-practicising counterparts . Often these easy poses are more impactful because they have less contraindications. And they work because they activate powerful acupressure points.

All forward bends are said to keep your skin glowing. Simple, Watson­čśëIts because these poses make your face flushed with blood.

How do u glow with this pose?

* Major acupressure points at the navel are activated for relieving  water retention. One of the reasons there are those ugly pouches in the face ..due to sluggish release of water logged in the tissue.

* More blood to the brain and face

* Releases anger ..and anger makes u old and ugly­čśë

* Removes stress ( the stress glands at your lower back get a firm massage) . Stress makes u old and sad-ugly. ­čśë

* Promotes digestion ..so all the nutrients are rightly absorbed. Skin needs a lot of maintenance and repair that is supported by your food.

* Enhances deep breathing.  And good breathing is  ABSOLUTELY essential for youthful skin.

* Impacts your uro-genital system ..which deals with your moods and hormones..both super important contributors  towards skin glow.

* A huge acupressure point at the buttocks called vajra nadi is activated ..it deals with the repairing systems of the body.

This pose is called balasana ( child pose). There are similar poses with different arm positions..which have similar impact ( shashankasana/ hare pose).

In case u have  a knee problem u can keep a cushion under the knees. In case u can't touch forehead to ground also a cushion is a good prop.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

You are your stomach!

The prayer we say at our ashram before a meal sums this up: what is offered is god. Brahmarpanam ..If u are what eat and what u eat is god, the fire on which the offering is made is also god. Brahmahavir..U get the general idea of where we are headed..that your gut is god.

The mind is given the halo. But we forgot biologically the brain was solely created to get us food and prevent us from becoming another creature's food. That later the brain evolved enough to forget its own humble origins or to discuss quantum physics is the subject of another post.

But suffice to say the gut is a very powerful organ. So powerful that it can make decisions that bypass the brain.  Has an exclusive hotline to the brain called the gut-brain axis. And it can release hormones that can subvert those released by the rest of the body's juices.

And this system is host to several armies of microorganisms that have their control panels.

So keeping your stomach healthy is crucial for every part of who u are.
This pose called jatharagniasana ( abdominal fire pose) or udharakarshanasana ( abdominal stretch pose). Like I say u will find several tutorials for it online. U can keep knees down as well. Or lean on a wall. If knees gives u troubleu can sit on a chair to modify the pose.

Strength vs Flexibility

The other disadvantage..in terms of strength versus flexibility ..lies in the fabric of your muscles. The more elastic  muscle is the slow twitch muscle ..it is red in colour. And it is that way because it allows the passage of air, nutrients and repairing agents faster into your body. It is also an endurance muscle. The fast-twitch muscle are shorter, tighter and oriented for speed. So it teally is a matter of developing the right balance in your body. We can discuss later on why flexibility as opposed to strength has its downside soon. This version of the #prishtasana #lizardpose looks complicated and/or tough. It is neither. Easy really.  #Merry x'mas
 #yogaforoverthe50s #yogisofinstagram #yogis #yoginis #fabfifties #yogalove #yogachic #bohoyoga #yogibhogirogi #fitness #yogaismorethanasana #yoga #yogateacher #yogadaily #yogalife

Friday, December 22, 2017

Executive stretch: heart-healthy

It was discovered that music conductors lived for  long and lived well because their profession made them wave their hands high above their hearts. This pose ..called tadasana / mountain pose or palm pose mimics that effect.

Another aftershoot of this pose: it prevents age-related shrinkage of tissue. We lose height as we age ..due to gravity. This pose fights it.

One of the least contraindicated of all poses. And one with maximum health benefits.

And it can help u reach the muc-coveted lotus pose.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Freshen up in a jiffy: simhagarjasana or lionroaring pose

Not as easy it has it looks. Yet not as tough as the other more exotic poses. Its a great healer. If u have fever it can bring it down. Still dry out a bad cold. It has a similar impact on blood pressure: elevating it if low and lowering it if high.

Other fun things it does:
* sweetens voice
* great for singers
* removes wrinkles
* removes dullness
* powers all your sense organs
* builds confidence
* therapy for social phobia
* controls stuttering

Minimum five times, anytime, daily

Instructions are avsilable all over the net. If there are variations do not panic . Each school has a slightly different method but all lead up to the same benefits.  Some schools call it the Narsimhasana

I am going to doing more on this practice  by and by .

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Yoga is the cure

I want longer arms. A rubber spine. I want to stand   on  one big toe, and  for 100 years. But actually all those foolish dreams apart I fell in love with yoga because it cured me of a chronic childhood bronchitis. So when I am  not foolishly dreaming of a rubber spine,  I only want to do yoga so the  deadly cough  does not to come back. But once in six months or so it can rear its head ( where earlier it would be with me almost daily) so as to act   as  a reminder. Even if it racks  me ( for a shorter duration due to yoga) its more as a call to get back with more sincerity on the mat. Reminds me of the Chinese proverb: No disease short life. One disease long life. U can substitute the word #life for #yoga and it makes sense even more. #viparitadandasana #upwardrodpose #yogaeverydamnday #yogadaily #yogini #yogibhogirogi #yogalife #yogaliving #yogalove #yoga #yogaforoverthe50s #yogateacher #yogacure

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Living in a place where you are not happy can make you old!

When I was a kid, we were the first family to move into the street of a new suburb. Other houses sprung up around us. So, by the time the street filled up, we knew all the families. It is a reassuring thing. When any festival happened, every family would send out a plate of special goodies to the others in the streets. We did not party together. But I guess we were  a community. And a good one at that.

As a college kid, when I came home late -- and in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, night falls early, it would not be so scary to walk down a badly lit street, because you had the sense you could run into any home for help. Subsequently, the suburb has changed. Small houses have been replaced by highrises. The roads are more well-lit. But I have not gone back since I left it, because I fear I may not feel as safe as I did when I was a kid.

Here is what the famous biologist Elizabeth Blackburn says about how neighbourhoods can affect us.
"Communities where people do not trust one another, and where they fear violence, are damaging to *telomere heath. But neighbourhoods that feel safe and look beautiful -- with leafy trees and green parks -- are related to longer telomeres, no matter what the income and education level of their residents."
(*Telomeres are ends of chromosomes. They begin to shrink,  aging the rest of us and our bodies, from inside)

More exciting thoughts on how your neighbourhood can accelerate your aging: 
* Being stuck in a neghbourhood from which you want to move but cannot afford to

*Living in spaces where the crime rate is high 

*Disorderly neighbourhoods 

* Unsafe neighbourhoods 

* Neighbourhoods without social cohesion 

* Without green spaces 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fast route towards youthfulness

The new buzz word is autophagy. It sort of means your cells eat themselves -- a sort of cannibalistic behavior of the cells post exercise or fasting, that actually benefits the organism as a whole.

In exercise, the cells are damaged. And this release an activity called autophagy, which is set off to clear up cell debris, and this in turn helps rejuvenate the cells. Interestingly fasting appears to have a similar regenerative impact on the brain. 

And it is not just cell regeneration but also helps heal or control --  cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune diseases and infections (according to a study).

Just how much is too much, in terms of exercise? Or how do you modulate your fasting?  I find these concerns are pretty well-managed by alternative therapies. As far as yoga is concerned, as a daily practitioner I can vouch for the fact that nothing is too much, and your body progressively gets used to more demand on it. It responds by having less hunger. Unlike after a gym round, after a yoga session your hunger actually gets depressed. It is an interesting phenomenon. Automatically induces less eating, thereby inviting a natural fasting that helps the mind stay fresh too.